Match report: York City 0 Exeter City 0Exeter City and York City shared the spoils by playing out a 0-0 draw at Bootham Crescent.
The scoreline belied an entertaining and energetic game with goalmouth action at either end, but ultimately neither defence was breached as the encounter finished goalless.
There were four changes to the starting XI for the fixture – defensive duo Craig Woodman and Matt Oakley, who have featured almost without rest so far this campaign, were missing through injury.
That prompted a call into the side for Jamie McAllister and Danny Butterfield in the defensive ranks – the latter wearing the captain’s armband.
James Hamon was given the nod to start between the sticks, with Christy Pym deputising from amongst the substitutes, while Alex Nicholls was preferred to Scot Bennett. Tom McCready’s was also involved in the matchday 18 for the first time, as a substitute.
The teams exchanged probing advances in the early play, with neither goalkeeper overworked. The first danger to Hamon’s goal came after the hosts countered quickly from an Exeter free-kick, but Arron Davies covered well as Wes Fletcher came forward.
With 15 minutes play, Bobby Olejnik was suddenly forced into action – Clinton Morrison flicked into the path of Liam Sercombe, whose powerful volley was saved. Morrison’s follow-up was deflected and clawed away from Olejnik, and then Nicholls’ volley out the air was off the line by Stephane Zubar.
Soon after Diego De Girolamo had Exeter hearts in mouths on his return to Bootham Crescent when he took a shot from just outside the box, but in the end it was harmlessly wide of the target.
The home support were becoming restless as the Grecians were dealing comfortably with any balls into the danger area – however a neat threaded ball finally found Wes Fletcher, and Hamon did well to save low.
Hamon was commanding his box well whenever a threat came in, but he was thankful that Stephane Zubar’s header was wide from close range as the defender came forward for a set piece.
Ryan Harley was the first name to be taken as he felled Josh Carson en route to goal – thankfully the resultant free-kick was wasteful from outside the area.
Then Sercombe chanced his arm from the centre circle as a misplaced kick from the goalkeeper was chested down, but it kept rising as Olejnik scuttled back.
Half-time: York City 0 Exeter City 0
Neither manager made a change at the break, and chances were quickly forthcoming at either end. A loose clearance was volleyed by Nicholls but only hit the body of a defending York player.
Shortly after, Russell Penn got away from Sercombe with a neat bit of skill, before hitting into the arms of Hamon.
The tempo was relentless, with both teams trying to probe and get the defences turning towards their own goal, but not quite able to find the final ball.
Jimmy Keohane and David Wheeler replaced Nicholls and Morrison in the attacking third for the final 20 minutes of the game, to give the home defence some fresh things to worry about.
York’s own sub Emile Sinclair was causing problems too, in particular with his running into the right channel, but Jordan Moore-Taylor and McAllister were handling the new threat well.
Josh Carson wasn’t far away from breaking the deadlock when a ball broke to him on the edge of the box, but he curled his right-footed effort marginally over.
Into the final ten minutes, City had chances in quick succession as Keohane’s effort from the edge of the area and then, when the Grecians quickly recovered the ball, some smart play allowed Sercombe room to shoot – but his effort was wayward.
York had an opportunity through Marvin McCoy, just as the fourth official signalled three added minutes, but he blazed an effort over.
And City survived a late flurry while saw Michael Coulson win a free-kick 20 yards out and central, and then his effort from the dead-ball clipped the wall on the way over. A couple of late scrambles were dealt with from the resultant corner as it ended goalless.
Full-time: York City 0 Exeter City 0
York City: Olejnik; McCoy, Zubar, Lowe, Benning; Penn, Halliday; Coulson, De Girolamo (Sinclair 69), Carson (Meikle 85); Fletcher.
Unused subs: Ingham, Ilesanmi, McCombe, Montrose, Platt.
Exeter City: Hamon; Ribeiro, Butterfield, Moore-Taylor, McAllister; Davies, Sercombe, Harley; Nicholls (Keohane 73), Morrison (Wheeler 73), Nichols.
Unused subs: Pym, Tillson, Cummins, Bennett, McCready.
Attendance: 3,209 (227 away).
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge